The inaugural Heritage Formula Ford round was dominated by a stunning Oliver White comeback drive to win the second race at Donington Park, after hitting problems in the first.
The new series for Kent engined machines from before 1993 is the latest from James Beckett, and had a grid of 24 cars at Donington.
White looked like he would dominate the opening race in his Van Diemen RF89 as he took pole with a mark three-quarters of a second quicker than the next best. Then in the race he quickly built a lead of over a second.
The race was red flagged with just over five of the scheduled 15 minutes remaining, due to Chris Hodgen’s Van Diemen RF89 sitting on fire at the pitlane entrance.
Before the race was restarted White’s Van Diemen started to misfire on the grid, and while he took the restart he was swamped quickly by his rivals and peeled in to retire at the end of the lap.
There was a thrilling dice at the front in the reconvened race between Mike Gardner’s Crossle 30/32F, Formula 1 commentator Ben Edwards in his Van Diemen RF92 and Connor Murphy in his Mondiale M98s
Gardner beat Edwards to the line by a scant 0.012s with Murphy completing the podium a tenth of a second behind the winner.
“Against some of the newer cars I thought I’d struggle; I did struggle,” said Garnder. “But it’s just nice to get a win against such good competition.
“There’s a couple of the corners I was quicker than Ben Edwards and Connor Murphy and it just gave me just enough breathing space onto the back straight. Then Ben got a tow just coming across the line, I only just won it.
“It’s all really good fun. Close racing, it’s what Formula Ford’s about.”
White made amends in the second race of the day. After starting 21st White had passed seven cars before the first turn, was fourth after two laps and within four laps had taken the lead from Murphy at the chicane that ends the lap.
He won by 5.7s from Murphy, and Gardner completed the podium. Edwards was unable to complete the parade lap in race two due to a broken coil lead.
“I just stayed calm to be honest,” said White, “I just picked my way through. I managed to get I think eight or nine cars on the first lap, I could see the leaders then. It was great to win from the back.
“When you start with so many cars in front of you it’s almost intimidating. I just got a good start, had a nice clean run through and made it happen.
“I thought we’d be competitive [before the weekend] but I didn’t expect to be that quick.”
Race 1 (second part = 4 laps)
1 Mike Gardner Crossle 30/32F 5m15.738s
2 Ben Edwards Van Diemen RF92 +0.012s
3 Conor Murphy Mondiale M98s +0.104s
4 James Hafield Van Diemen RF86 +0.347s
5 Alex Ames Reynard RF89 +0.978s
6 Tom Brown Van Diemen RF79 +1.100s
7 Andrew Higginbottom Van Diemen RF88 +1.799s
8 Mark De Rozarieux Van Diemen RF88 +9.387s
9 Jack Clayton Van Diemen RF89 +9.585s
10 Colin Williams PRS RH02 +10.164s
Pole: Oliver White Van Diemen RF89, 1m15.384s
Fastest Lap: Brown, 1m16.939s
Race 2 (9 laps)
1 White 11m34.939s
2 Murphy +5.751s
3 Gardner +9.902s
4 Hadfield +11.300s
5 Ames +15.554s
6 Higginbottom +22.755s
7 De Rozarieux +23.447s
8 Mike Wrigley Lotus 59/69 +25.460s
9 Brown +25.708
10 Clayton +28.336s
FL: White, 1m15.453s